Skift Take

Expedia in December promoted Ariane Gorin to become boss of Expedia Business Services. Gorin had led a team that had recently won major enterprise accounts, like Marriott's exclusive redistribution deal. Opportunity abounds for the company to expand its business-to-business partnerships.

At the same time that Expedia Chairman Barry Diller took control of the company’s leadership last December, he promoted Ariane Gorin to an expanded role as group president of Expedia Business Services.

Gorin had been president of Expedia Partner Solutions, which provides business-to-business services. Under the new group Expedia Business Services, Gorin now also oversees Egencia, the corporate travel arm. The company created the Expedia Business Services umbrella group last year, and Egencia boss Rob Greyber now reports to Gorin.

Since then, Diller has groused about Expedia Group’s inefficiency. The company in late February announced layoffs for about 12 percent of its workforce.

Much of Diller’s publicly voiced complaints have been about the group’s consumer-facing groups.

But the teams Gorin oversees are on the business-to-business side. The “partner solutions” effort lets airlines, hotels, online and offline travel agencies, and other companies onward sell Expedia’s travel offers and get a cut.

Gorin has a track record of success. She helped champion several enterprise deals that launched in late 2018 and led to a rise in gross bookings in 2019.

Skift caught up with Gorin to get an update. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Skift: Why has the company created a new organization called Expedia Business Services?

Ariane Gorin: While Expedia Partner Solutions (EPS) and Egencia have different end-users, the teams share many common practices and capabilities. They can learn and help one another — from B2B sales and account management to B2B customer service.

In other words, we created EBS to sharpen our focus on our B2B capabilities and be opportunistic about enabling both Egencia and EPS to serve our customers and partners better.

So, it’s an exciting time, and I’m delighted to lead it.

Skift: One wing of Expedia Business Services helps hotel group partners advance their objectives. Is there an example of a recent partnership you’d like to call out here briefly?

Gorin: Well we are very pleased with what you guys at Skift called the “I-just-saw-an-elephant-fly” moment. At the end of last year, we became the exclusive global redistributor of Marriott’s wholesale rates, availability, and content.

Marriott’s hotels were spending too much time navigating the complex web of third-party redistribution and competing technology standards. We listened, and then we looked at the capabilities we’ve developed at Expedia Partner Solutions — connections to thousands of trusted distribution partners, technology solutions — APIs and templates, billing, and commissions systems.

Working side by side with Marriott, we created a single point of access and uniform distribution solution for all Marriott hotels worldwide. It is going to save them a ton of time and give travelers a consistent experience of hotel descriptions, room rates, and fees. So, let’s hope for more flying elephants like these this year.

Skift: What opportunities do you see for Expedia Group to use technology to remove more friction from the travel sector or from travel booking?

Gorin: Technology can play a massive role in reducing pain points and stressors for travelers — both during booking and also while on their trip.

Brand Expedia will soon roll out a trip assistance function on our app that will alert the hotel that a traveler’s flight is delayed and therefore needs a late check-in.

We’re also piloting a shuttle tracking technology program built by Track My Shuttle, allowing hotel guests to see exactly where to find shuttle pickup for their hotel and follow along with a live route map.

And for Egencia’s business travelers, we recently launched Smart Mix, which intelligently analyzes data and complex scenarios, factoring in the personal preferences of each traveler and their company’s travel policy to deliver smarter search results out of hundreds of hotel and flight options.

For example, let’s say you have a biannual event every year, one in Berlin and one in San Francisco. Our machine learning knows what hotels, flight times, and ground transportation options your travelers prefer, so those results are what you see first.

Overall, we make it faster for travelers to find exactly the hotel they’re looking for.

Skift: What are Expedia Business Services’ hopes in Europe? You joined Expedia in 2013 as vice president of market management in Europe, and you led the regional team in expanding the hotel network. So we imagine it’s still a critical region for you.

Gorin: EMEA has been a key region for growth for EBS, and we continue to see a significant opportunity here, particularly as we expand further into emerging markets within Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

On the Egencia side, we recently announced a significant new deal with British Petroleum (BP), and on the EPS side, we see massive growth for our new API, Rapid. Our product team has built some incredible features within Rapid, which are aimed at both improving the traveler booking experience and helping our partners to generate more revenue. We are powering some of Europe’s leading airlines, such as Norwegian, to offer special hotel rates for their customers.

Or look at loveholidays. Loveholidays can now, powered by EPS’ versatile API, Rapid, give holidaymakers booking with that agency access to Expedia Group’s global supply of more than 500,000 properties in more than 25,000 destinations.

Skift: You now also lead Expedia’s travel management service Egencia. Is corporate travel an area you expect to grow in Europe?

Gorin: Corporate travel in EMEA is a massive market, and roughly half of Egencia’s gross bookings come from customers in EMEA — so EMEA is definitely a top priority for us.

We understand the challenges in this market — coordination across multiple geographies, diverse and unique supply networks, the importance of rail, adopting and adapting to NDC [the new distribution capability], and advanced security and safety regulations. So we’re investing every day to exceed our customers’ expectations.

Skift: You’ve overseen Expedia Partner Solutions for years. Is it fair to call it an affiliate sales business?

Gorin: Actually EPS doesn’t have an affiliate booking solution. (Our sister B2C brands at Expedia Group do, though.)

When we retired the EAN brand and replaced it with EPS, it was due to an organizational change. But personally I was very happy to replace “affiliate” with “partner,” as in my mind affiliate always had a bit of a non-equal ring to it, whereas partnership feels more like a meeting of equals where two companies are working together to reach a common goal through our API and template solutions. And that’s how I’ve always seen our business.

Skift: On a personal note, you’re on the advisory council of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. Is there any color on how classical music plays a role in your life?

Gorin: I grew up in a musical family. I played the violin and was lucky to be a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. One of my favorite feelings was during a performance when I knew a piece so well that I could play it by heart and didn’t have to concentrate on the notes and instead could listen to how all of the instruments of the orchestra came together perfectly to create something magical.

I remember playing Barber’s Adagio for Strings and being transported to another world through music — a world without worries, a world that brings calm and peace of mind. It’s not an easy time for orchestras around the world, as funding becomes more and more difficult. Getting to be involved with the RPO in London has been one of the highlights of the last few years for me.


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Tags: affiliates, egencia, expedia, Expedia Affiliate Network, expedia group, online travel agencies

Photo credit: Ariane Gorin is shown here talking at Explore '18, the Expedia group customer conference, on December 6th, 2018 at the Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada. Last December, the company promoted Gorin to an expanded role as group president of Expedia Business Services. Expedia

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